The oldest living Grand Ole Opry member, Little Jimmy Dickens, has died, the Opry announced. He was 94.
I know why it's raining in Nashville. Little Jimmy is in heaven now making the Angels laugh so hard, they're crying. We'll miss you, friend!
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) January 3, 2015
According to NBC news, Dickens — along with his band, the Country Boys — was credited with bridging the gap between rock and country music by being one of the first country stars to embrace the electric guitar. He died Friday in a Nashville, Tennessee, hospital of a cardiac arrest.
Just got the word about Little Jimmy Dickens passing. I am deeply saddened. We have lost a precious treasure pic.twitter.com/Wm7PqGxwmV
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) January 3, 2015
Just heard Little Jimmy Dickens passed away. What a life of 94 years. Rest in peace and thank u for being good to us young bucks.
— Randy Houser (@RandyHouser) January 3, 2015
Dickens joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and remained a member until his death. He most recently performed at the Opry less than two weeks ago, on Dec. 20, the day after his 94th birthday.
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) January 3, 2015
Short-statured Dickens, who also explained his nickname by saying, “I’m Little Jimmy Dickens, or Willie Nelson after taxes,” had one No. 1 hit during his long, storied music career: “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” recorded in 1965. It incorporated electric and pedal steel guitars in its hillbilly sound, revitalizing classic bluegrass when rock music was overtaking its popularity.
RIP 'little' jimmy dickens. We love you.
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) January 3, 2015
— Rodney Atkins (@RodneyAtkins) January 3, 2015
But despite changing the sound of bluegrass, Dickens never completely left behind the hillbilly sound that had made him famous. He was a hero to generations of country stars, including George Jones, one of country music’s most famous voices, who dedicated an entire album to Dickens in 1964: George Jones Sings Like the Dickens.
RIP Little Jimmy Dickens… Loved fishing with you, loved your music, and loved you as a person most… http://t.co/uDSWZyCpyh
— ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) January 3, 2015
My heart goes out to the family of Little Jimmy Dickens! Always wore a smile on his heart! Rest In Peace my friend!
— Chris Cagle (@chriscagle) January 3, 2015
A 1983 inudctee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dickens was remembered by fellow country stars and others on Twitter and other social media Friday. The Grand Ole Opry released a statement following his death, saying, “The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy. He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come.”
Celebrating Little Jimmy Dickens tonight….what an honor spending time and sharing the stage with him pic.twitter.com/o3ueukf9Hw
— Dustin Lynch (@dustinlynch) January 3, 2015
It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to my hero and friend today. I loved you Jimmy.
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) January 3, 2015
Our hearts go out to all his friends and family during this time.